Water is an essential part of everyday life. For farmers in dryland environments such as Northern Ghana, water also dictates their livelihoods. That’s why Trax Ghana support rural farming communities to increase availability of water for farming and household use.
The United Nations (UN) in Agenda 21 of the 1992 conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro designated 22 March as International World Water Day. The day since then, is celebrated each year and focuses attention on the importance of universal access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities in developing countries. The day also focuses on advocating for sustainable management of fresh water resources. Trax Ghana is joining in the celebration of this year’s World Water Day, whose theme is “wastewater”.
The Challenge in Ghana
According to UNICEF’s WASH in communities report, hand washing can reduce diarrhoea and pneumonia by up to 50%, yet less than 15% of Ghanaian households have hand washing facilities. Improved sanitation can reduce diarrhoea rates by 36%, but only 15% of Ghanaians have access to improved sanitation, well short of the 2015 goal of 54%. One in five Ghanaians have no access to a toilet and defecate in the open, with open defecation rates over 70% in Northern Ghana, reflecting significant national inequalities.
Falling within the savannah zone of Ghana, the northern portions of the country generally has a distinct dry season between November and April, with the wet season falling between May and October. During the dry season, water can be a limiting factor for both domestic use and agricultural livelihoods of much of the population and finding a clean and sustainable source of freshwater can be challenging. Furthermore, heavy rainfall events in the wet season have been known to cause damaging flooding in the region, especially for communities on the banks of the region’s three major rivers: The Black and White Volta rivers, and the Oti river.
In Ghana, potable water sources are diminishing at such a fast rate that the country faces a looming water crisis by the year 2030, if conditions continue to persist. The Water Research Institute (WRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has warned that there would be no treatable water source, either surface or ground water by 2030, should the rate at which the country’s water sources are being polluted.
Over the past two decades, Trax Ghana community-based Sustainable Land Management (SLM) interventions to regulate surface water flow and soil erosion focus on reforestation, natural regeneration, grass stripping, composting, crop residue management, wild fire prevention and management, energy-efficient stove use, inter-cropping with legumes, contour identification and terracing, zero or control burning and contour ridging among others.
Our activities increase the water retention of soil, reducing flooding and improving crop growth and biodiversity. We also undertake initiatives for rain water harvesting and providing sources of clean water for communities.
Potable Water for Farming Communities
To address the problem of scarcity of potable water in some farming communities, Trax Ghana in partnership with the District Assembly, John and Katherine Hindson (UK), and Self Help Africa (UK), drilled eleven boreholes in seven different communities in the Bongo District and Bolga Municipal, in the Upper East region of Ghana. Another seven boreholes were drilled in seven different communities in the Bunkpurugu/Yunyoo District, in the Northern region of Ghana.
Also in partnership with Self Help Africa, Trax Ghana has dug wells to provide a source or water to enable vegetable production, including during the dry season. This valuable water enables hand irrigation of vegetables which provides an additional source of good nutrition and income for farming households. The vegetables are all grown organically using agroecological practices.
Solving the Challenge of Water in Schools
In partnership with the British School of Brussels, a 4-unit KVIP and 2 urinals were completed in 2013 and handed over to the Zuarungu Moshie School in the Bolga municipal. Boreholes were also drilled in Gaare/Gbani, Duusi, Dachio and Zuarungu Moshie schools, in the Upper East region. Prior to the provision of borehole in the schools, students walk long distances in search of drinking water during break periods, and in the process some fail to return to class. The challenge of the schools is now a thing of the past!
Addressing the issue of sanitation and hygiene in schools, Trax Ghana partnership project in 2015, presented sanitation containers and hand washing materials to Gaare/Gbani, Duusi, Dachio and Zuarungu Moshie schools. The donations now serve a dual purpose of clean water storage for drinking and thorough washing of hands after using the washroom and other public places.